Written by Dave Kim for brooklynrail.org
Served at President Obama’s Super Bowl party this year was the White House’s own honey ale, which an unnamed White House chef had homebrewed especially for the occasion. While Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers threw touchdown passes on the big screen, the Obamas and their guests knocked back beers made with fresh grains and a pound of honey from the first lady’s beehive. This was no spur-of-the-moment menu addition: the president had purchased the brewing equipment himself. Each bottle produced even sported a custom label.
The White House Honey Ale, served to a shortlist of government brass and celebrity guests like J-Lo and Marc Anthony, shows just how high the profile of independent brewing has risen in recent years. Gone are the days when beer enthusiasts, tired of the same old factory lagers in their grocery stores, had to make their own suds out of sheer necessity. One would think the availability of great craft beers throughout the country would make brewers lazier, but it seems to have only ramped up the competition. Estimates for the number of brewing hobbyists in North America now vary between 750,000 and 1.2 million. Here in Brooklyn there has been something of a beermaking explosion since 2009, when brewing supplies suddenly started appearing in flea markets and kitchen-supply shops. There’s even a store in Gowanus devoted solely to beermaking, Brooklyn Homebrew, which opened its doors last year and by the owners’ accounts is doing brisk business.
“We’re playing catch-up to the rest of the country,” said co-owner Benjamin Stutz, regarding the city’s booming homebrewing scene. “New York has been way behind. This was meant to happen years ago.”